Pilot plant for Lightbridge fuel mooted for Ohio

08 December 2023

Lightbridge Corporation and Centrus Energy Corp are to carry out a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study to add a dedicated fabrication facility for Lightbridge's next-generation nuclear fuel at the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio.

The contract for the FEED study was signed at COP28 (Image: X/@LightbridgeCorp)

The FEED study will identify infrastructure and licensing requirements for the Lightbridge Pilot Fuel Fabrication Facility (LPFFF), as well as the estimated cost and construction schedule. The study will be led by Centrus subsidiary, American Centrifuge Operating, LLC, and is expected to be completed in 2024. The contract for the FEED study was signed at COP28 in Dubai.

The Piketon plant began uranium enrichment operations in October and Centrus delivered the first shipment of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) produced there the following month. The Piketon plant is the only HALEU production plant in the world outside of Russia and would be an ideal site for Lightbridge’s proposed facility, Centrus President and CEO Daniel Poneman said. "Since Lightbridge Fuel has the potential to bring HALEU and its benefits to the existing fleet of reactors, this partnership holds the potential to significantly expand the market for HALEU," he added.

Lightbridge President and CEO Seth Grae said the agreement with Centrus was a "landmark moment" towards establishing a pilot-scale manufacturing facility. "At COP28, the United States joined other countries in pledging to triple nuclear power globally by 2050. We expect the added power produced by reactors upgraded with Lightbridge Fuel - and new small reactors powered by our fuel - to be key to meeting that goal," he added.

Lightbridge Fuel is a proprietary next-generation nuclear fuel technology for existing light water reactors and pressurised heavy water reactors. The company says the metallic fuel rods - which operate at a lower temperature than standard fuel - are significantly more economical and safer than traditional fuel, and also offer enhanced proliferation resistance. It is also developing Lightbridge Fuel for new small modular reactors. Lightbridge's fuel technology has been developed with support from the US Department of Energy through its Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear programme.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News